The captains of several European teams will not use the “OneLove” armbands at the World Cup in Qatar because of the risk of receiving yellow cards.
England, the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Switzerland and Wales have decided to participate in the “OneLove” campaign to promote inclusion and combat discrimination.
But the societies of those countries said in a statement on Monday that the bracelet – which has a heart striped in different colors to represent all heritages, regions, genders and sexual identities – would not be worn in Qatar.
“FIFA is very clear that it will impose sporting sanctions if our officials wear armbands on the field of play,” the joint statement read.
“As national federations, we cannot put our players in a position where they can face sporting sanctions including bookings, so we have asked the leaders not to try to bring tackles into FIFA World Cup games.”
“We are ready to pay the money that would normally be related to breaking the rules of the kits and we had a great interest in wearing the armband. But we cannot put our players in a situation where they are forced to book or even leave the field of play,” the statement added.
The decision not to display the locker in Qatar comes hours before England’s opening game against Iran, while Wales travel to the US and the Netherlands to Senegal later on Monday.
Countries said they were “disappointed” by what they say is FIFA’s “unprecedented” decision to sanction captains if they wear the armband.
“We wrote to FIFA in September to inform them that we would like to refer to the closet of One Love to actively support inclusion in football and I have not received a response. Our players and coaches are disappointed – supporters of inclusion are strong and will show support in other ways” continued the statement.
In the build-up to the World Cup, Qatar – where homosexuality is illegal and punishable by up to three years in prison – has come under fire for its stance on LGBTQ rights.
However, the country has repeatedly stated that “everyone is very welcome” in the tournament.
France have been part of the away season campaign, but last week captain Hugo Lloris told reporters that he was “respecting” the local culture at the tournament.
The Dutch football association, meanwhile, said on Monday that it was “completely disappointed” that captain Virgil van Dijk would receive a yellow card if he wore an armband on the pitch.